Issue #2 The Kin

This entry is part 3 of 15 in the series The Descendants Vol 1: Welcome to Freeland House

[This issue takes place during the events of Descendants #1]

“You’ve got to trust me on this, Laurel, it’s for the best.” Alexis said, retrieving her coffee cup from the floor beside her. She was sitting in the corner of Laurel’s workshop, which in the past had been Freeland House’s bridal suite. Now, orderly shelves of parts competed with banks of servers and other computer peripherals for space around four large worktables.

Laurel sat near her on the floor, applying solder to a circuit board. “I can’t agree with you on that, Alex. How are those kids going to learn to control their abilities if they’re not allowed to use them?”

“It’s only until the renovation is done.” Alexis argued. “Besides, maybe it’ll be good for them to learn to do for themselves without using their powers all the time.”

“You’re one to talk about the random abuse of powers. I seem to remember a certain someone making microwave popcorn in her hands on a bet back in school.”

Alexis couldn’t help but smile at the memory. “I didn’t do it on a bet – you’re the one that started giving odds.” She regained her more serious posture, “Anyway, I’ve grown up. You don’t see me flying everywhere, do you?”

“You haven’t changed as much as you seem you wish.” Laurel said, turning the circuit board over in her hands. “For example; We don’t have a coffeemaker yet and I’m pretty sure I didn’t hear the teapot boiling… so can you tell me how you have a piping hot cup of Joe?”

Alexis blushed and sat her cup back down. “So, what exactly are you working on anyway?” She changed the subject, knowing Laurel couldn’t resist describing whatever new invention had captured her fancy.

Laurel nodded and stood, taking the circuit board over to one of the tables. “I’ll show you, but don’t think you’ve heard the last about letting the kids use their powers.”

Alexis followed her friend to where the other woman was opening the face plate on a notebook computer. “I thought you got out of the hobby of making computers from scratch” she offered.

“I did,” Laurel shrugged “but this is a very special computer. This little guy *should* help make Kareem feel a bit more at home here.”

“I thought Kareem was adjusting pretty well, considering. He talks to Melissa and I all the time and he seems happy. The only problem he has is accidentally reading thoughts when he’s trying to communicate.”

“This is exactly what this device should help. In theory, it will allow him to hold conversations on this plane instead of depending on his telepathy all the time.” Laurel seated the circuit board she had been working on into place and began adjusting jumper settings. “See, I was reading Kareem’s file from the Academy and it said that he could allow others to astral project with him… you know, before they did whatever they did to him.”

“I don’t really follow…” Alexis admitted.

“Well, I got to thinking; what if he could astral project a computer program instead? Astral projection is pretty much just bending the Theta brainwave so you can perceive the Astral Plane.”

“Now you’ve totally lost me.” Alexis said, making the face she always did when her genius friend went over her head.

“Sorry, I’m getting to the point now.” Laurel grinned. “See, brainwaves are just electrical impulses, just like –“

“Idiot speak, please, Laurel?”

“But this part is so interesting!” Laurel whined.

“Only if you have even the tiniest bit of understanding what you’re talking about, L. Please, just tell me what it does – how it does it would just give me a headache.”

Laurel nodded, defeated. “It lets him show his image on the screen and speak through the speakers. With a large, high definition screen, it’d be as if he were physically in the room with us. And on his end, the device would broadcast what the camera and mic pick up directly into his mind, so he wouldn’t need to use telepathy.”

“That’s wonderful, Laurel! You’re right; he’ll definitely feel more comfortable with something like that.”

“Eventually, I hope to put one in all the main rooms, so he can take part in everything. After that, I can work on –“

One of the computers began a rapid fire chirping, which drowned out whatever Laurel was saying. Both women rushed over to investigate; Laurel sliding into the leather computer chair at the center of the rows of monitors and databanks.

“Should I be worried… or diving for cover?” Alexis asked.

“No worries – my overheat alarm is House of Flame by Pan’s Garden” Laurel explained, typing away at the keyboard. The central monitor displayed the front page of a Florida news website. “This is just my information flagging sound.”

“Information flagging?”

“Yeah. After what happened with the Academy, I figured I should watch for any strange activity from them. So I’ve have this server; Vimes, crawling the internet for any Academy activity or changes to sites regarding the Academy.” With a few taps of the keyboard, Laurel brought up another page from the same news site and displayed it side by side with the other page. “Clever boys.” Laurel commented, typing furiously.

“What’s clever?” Alexis asked, nervously.

“Check this out;” Laurel enlarged the two pages and pointed, “On January 28 of this year, Quinn Bluffs, Florida experienced a freak flash flood which knocked out most of their power grid. On February 3, the Quinn Bluffs Courier reported that the flood caused a mud slide that partially buried the almost completed science center being constructed there by the PTAA, forcing them to abandon operations. Heavy rains have kept them from excavating ever since”

“Serves them right, but I don’t get why that’s clever.” Alexis said.

“That’s not the clever bit. This is the clever bit; May 6, a day after we came to Freeland House, the Courier’s webpage was changed. What I just read to you was from a search engine’s cache. As of the 6th, the page reports that the science center was owned by the Abrams Foundation for Scientific Research.”

“I’ve never heard of them.”

“Neither has anyone else.” Laurel said. “I just did a search and they have one result: their own website. A Whois query shows that their site was registered on May 10.”

“Huh.” Alexis remarked. “Clever.”

“Aren’t they just?” Laurel smirked. “And now for the icing on the cake; I had Vimes search police reports for strange occurrences between the date of the flood and today. Besides a town with an annual rainfall of fifty-eight inches getting thirty inches in the past three months, there have been eleven reports of money and food disappearing before witnesses who swear no one touched them, six thefts with no signs of forced entry, and four sightings of a ‘demon’.” She pulled up the police reports as she spoke. “Put them all together and they spell…”

“Psionic.” Alexis finished.

“Got it in one.” Laurel nodded. “And I’m guessing this one is another kid they had sealed in a stasis cell. The question is, ‘what do we do about it?’”

“You know the answer to that, L.” Alexis said. “We can’t let them catch this kid and do god knows what to them again.”

“I thought you said you weren’t up for doing the prelate thing.” Laurel gave her friend a wry smile, “I think you said that it drew too much attention… that it was for the best concerning the kids?”

“That was before another kid was in danger.” The raven haired woman replied. “Besides, this isn’t like prelate work. I’m merely going to go find this new psionic and bring him back. That’s all. No fights with Enforcers or anyone else.”

“And what if they don’t give us the choice?” Both Alexis and Laurel’s heads whipped around to find Ian standing in the doorway.

“How did you know to be here?” Alexis puzzled.

“He asked me to page him when Vimes dredged up anything on the Academy.” Laurel explained. “So I just programmed in a line of code to do it automatically.”

Ian nodded as he closed to door and came to stand with the two women. “Ever since Prometheus tossed me around, I figured we’d have to cross him or someone like him again. Better we be prepared for it, right, ladies?”

Alexis gave him a pointed look. He had certainly changed since the trio had last been together. Back when they were in the Academy, he’d been more of a spectator for all the daring things she and Laurel had initiated. Now, he was more proactive than her – at least as far as dealing with the Academy went. Laurel didn’t seem to notice this change, but Alexis chalked that up to Ian and Laurel having lived near each other almost continuously since their Academy days.

Ian shied away from the gaze directed at him. “I’m not looking to fight Prometheus again, honestly – but it’s a possibility, so we shouldn’t pretend it isn’t.” He leaned over Laurel’s shoulder and scrolled over some of the text. “Quinn Bluffs – sounds like a nice place. When are we going?”

“Someone’s got to stay and look after the kids.” Laurel said, pausing slightly at Ian’s half chuckle. “So you and Alexis can go. Take my car – it can work on gas or electric, so if there’s another blackout from those floods, you’ll be able to get around.”

“Cool.” Ian nodded. “Too bad you won’t be coming with, Laurel; it’d be just like old times – the three of us road-tripping, terrorizing the countryside, devouring the peasants’ sheep…”

“That’s dragons, Ian.” Laurel laughed.

“Oh. So what did we do?” Ian grinned, looking to Alexis in an attempt to get her in on the joke.

“I’m pretty sure we didn’t eat anyone’s sheep.” the psionic genius supplied, giving Alexis a worried glance.

“Great, so terrorizing the countryside’s still in. how about you two go into town and gear us up – I’ll watch out for the kids.” Ian offered.

“Actually…” Laurel gave both her friends one of those smiles that told them she was planning something. “How about we take Melissa and Cynthia with us, Alex? We don’t really do things as a group and I think that’s a shame, considering we all live under the same roof.”

Alexis shrugged. “Fine by me. Let me go get ready.”

***

Rain pattered down, splashing against the lone window in the room. It wasn’t much, but it was the only reasonably comfortable room in the abandoned apartment building it was part of. The only light was a feeble grayish patch of sun trying vainly to shine through the clouds.

A young girl, probably twelve, sat on the windowsill, watching the rain and the people in the streets. Across from her, on one of the mattresses that took up the majority of the floor space, was a young man of about sixteen with black hair. He was trying to read a newspaper in the dim.

“Could you move over a little bit, Rain, you’re in my light.” The boy said, turning the page.

“But I like looking out the window, Kevin.” The girl, now identified as Rain pouted. “It’s not like there’s anything going on in here. Noah’s asleep, so I can’t even ask to go up on the roof.”

“You can get out of my light without moving away from the window, ya know?” the boy, Kevin, responded.

Rain blinked for a moment, then moved so that she wasn’t blocking the sunlight. “Better?”

“Much.” Kevin said.

A few moments of silence followed, then. “I’m hungry.” Rain announced.

“A little patience, Rain.” A smooth, purring voice came from the closet in the corner. Its owner was obscured by shadows. “We’ll all have something to eat once Tesser comes back from ‘shopping’. We should even have TV if she managed to find a generator at the Centre.”

“I thought you were asleep.” Kevin said.

“Can’t sleep. You’re worried, Rain’s getting hyper and my empathy’s mainlining it right to my brain.” The voice said again, a bit irritated. “So what is it that you’re worried about, Blank?”

“The Centre, mostly.” Kevin said. “I mean, the Academy isn’t going to leave it abandoned for long. What are we going to do when they send Enforcers down here, Noah?”

“We’ll be moving on eventually.” Noah said. “We have to. We can’t keep Rain here much longer.”

“And if they come before we move on?”

“None of use is going back in one of those boxes.” Noah declared. “If they think that, they have another thing coming. I’ll fight them to keep the rest of you safe – and I don’t doubt that your or Tesser feel the same.”

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About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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One Comment

  1. I’m interested in the fact that two of the members of that group, Noah and Rain, both have names connected not just with water, but also with flooding. Coincidence? Quite possibly.

    Also, Ian’s my favorite character, ’cause he’s so cool. Just saying.

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